25 Nov Successful Projects Need Executive Champions
Here is a simple truth about projects: All projects result in change. Some projects bring about small modifications to the status quo, and others introduce a large-scale transformation.
No matter the size or scale of the project, people resist change. Overcoming this resistance to change is a top challenge faced by project sponsors today.
Good news: You have what it takes to overcome this obstacle. Engage yourself!
Hiatt & Creasey researched over 300 companies when they wrote the book “Change Management: The People Side of Change.” They found the number-one success factor cited for implementing change is visible and active executive sponsorship. When the project team sees that an executive is excited about this project, the team buys in, too.
“Employee resistance increases as authority and sponsorship decreases.” — Hiatt & Creasey
Speak at the kickoff and at periodic meetings over the life of the project. Your team and other stakeholders will embrace the change knowing that it comes from the top.
At first glance people tend to see:
> All of the problems associated with a project/idea.
> All of the other demands on their time.
> All of the other things they’d rather give priority to.
As the project’s champion you need to see that the internal sales process is as important as the project goal/idea itself. The status quo does not need to be defended; rather, the project does.
As a champion, to minimize resistance to change you need to convince stakeholders on an ongoing basis that your project is:
> Worth doing – this can be achieved through the defined desired business outcomes and benefits.
> Doable and will deliver the promised outcomes and benefits.
> And doable by you, your governance and project teams (team credibility).
Some recommended tactics for convincing stakeholders to get behind your project:
> Scale the project to what is worthwhile and can be delivered successfully (i.e., is within your and the organization’s ability to deliver).
> Paint a common picture of the future (through the vision and desired business outcomes) that people at all layers of the organization can relate to and sign on to.
> Encourage key stakeholders to critique the desired outcome statements and review the implementation/change delivery plans.
> Sell to individuals, not the organization (i.e., make the benefits personal to stakeholders).
> Ensure they understand both the problems with the status quo and the ramifications of these problems on the business and their future success.
> As early as possible show the new state working or how the end states will be achieved.
> Enroll them and make them part of the business outcomes and benefits realization process,
> Use a new vocabulary to describe what you are trying to achieve – start creating the new world from the outset.
> Visibly take responsibility for making it happen – make the difficult decisions, chair the difficult meetings, get the difficult commitments up-front and personally manage the difficult stakeholders.
In a nutshell: Engage yourself! Fight for what the project needs. It is relying on you for its success.
Article written by Henrico Dolfing 27th August 2019